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Coventry Tenants To Get Hi-Tech Choices

Coventry has been awarded a grant to become one of the first cities in the country to offer Housing Association tenants a hi-tech 'choice-based lettings' service.

The city council is one of 27 local authorities nationwide, and the only one in the West Midlands, to be awarded Government money to develop 'Choice-based lettings' in the allocation of properties owned by Housing Associations in the city.

Instead of just being allocated a particular property by the Housing Association prospective tenants will be able have some degree of choice. They will be given details of the properties available and the criteria for letting. They can then request to be considered for selected properties they are interested in.

The Coventry scheme will be piloted in Hillfields. The lessons from the pilot will be used to develop a similar scheme for the whole city over a two year period.

Cllr John McNicholas - Coventry City CouncilCllr John McNicholas, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services with special responsibility for housing, said:

"I am delighted that Coventry has been chosen and has been awarded 500,000 to develop the scheme. After the Council transferred all its housing stock to Whitefriars, to achieve things in housing we obviously have to work in close partnership with the Housing Associations in the city. This is an early example of what we can achieve."

Stephen Rudge, Head of Housing Policy and Services for the City Council said:

"It's an exciting prospect. The first task will be to develop a scheme that will work in Hillfields with both local and city centre outlets, where people can get details of available properties. New technology will play a big part.

We will need to "learn the lessons" from the Hillfields scheme if we go city-wide and find ways of recognising that some people have already waited a long time for properties that rarely become available. In giving choice we don't want a chaotic free for all and the award will give us the time and money to develop the ideas".

Initially the scheme in Hillfields will involve the five major Housing Associations working in the area: Focus, Orbit, Mercian, Touchstone and Whitefriars, but when the scheme goes city-wide it will involve all 24 associations working in Coventry.

Tim Sheail, the Regional Housing Manager for Touchstone, who has played a key role in developing the pilot project in Hillfields said:

"Touchstone has always been at the fore-front of new ideas and we are looking forward to being part of the project. We will be working closely with the community to launch the scheme in Hillfields."

It is planned that the project will use new advanced Internet technologies such as XML and public access points.

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 24 Apr 01
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